Monday, November 5, 2012

Why 'Breaking Bad' is still a better show than 'The Walking Dead'

With the last half of the last season of Breaking Bad hitting the fan this coming summer and The Walking Dead having just started its third season, it's probably safe to say that television has hit one of its highest points within the past decade or so. But with all this talk of either of these shows being the "Best show on television," the question becomes: "Which of these shows is TRULY the best show on television?" Surely there is only room for one best!

Some will agree and some will argue (to no avail, says I) but the true and clear so-called "Best show on television" is none other than Vince Gilligan's Breaking Bad. Let me make it clear, however, that there is indeed more than one show that is argued for the title of "Best show on television" (I'd hoped that was obvious). What I am doing in this article is simply arguing for why Breaking Bad is a better selection than The Walking Dead for "Best show on television"  as opposed to trying to argue Breaking Bad against every other show on television (for that would entail a much larger task than I care for; however, I feel safe in assuming that we can universally rule out Jersey Shore).

Now that that's all cleared up...

If you ask somebody what makes a good television show, chances are they will answer, if they answer at all, by saying "Characters." So if we are going by that criteria, Breaking Bad definitely has shines brighter than The Walking Dead.

"Wait! The Walking Dead has Rick, Lori, Daryl, T-Dog, and Glenn- especially Glenn!" says the loyal Dead Head. To which I must ask: "Come on. Is Lori really all that interesting?"

Yes, The Walking Dead has A LOT of characters, but quantity is not the same as quality. Sure there are a few characters on this show who do intriguing/exciting things under the circumstances (like having sex in an abandoned pharmacy after just killing a zombie), but in its third season, how much do we ACTUALLY know about Glenn, one of the most popular characters on the show? The same could be asked of any of these characters:

1.) Other than riding in the same cop car, what experiences did Rick and Shane share that bonded them so closely, as we are told, so many times, that they are?

2.) Daryl talks a lot about finding his brother, Merle, because they're supposedly close; however, when Daryl has a hallucination about Merle in Season 2, Merle seems to be treating him pretty poorly. Why does Daryl admire Merle as much as he says he does?

3.) In Season 3 it becomes evident that the relationship between Lori and Rick has almost completely diminished and the writers, for all their talents, almost never explore what is going on the minds of this married couple and when they do, it results in an exchange of empty glares between the two. They say actions are more powerful than words, but the two of them do almost nothing! 

The list could go on.

Yes The Walking Dead is only in its third season and more about what makes these characters tick is slowly coming to light, but, watching this show, I can't help but feel like these people are still strangers to me.

So I've explored why The Walking Dead falls short of the title "Best show on television"; according to the intangible rules of argument, I must put forth my reasoning for why Breaking Bad is indeed a better choice for that same title.

Using the same standard of "characters" set forth earlier in my argument...

This show is a lush, fertile landscape for character development. And what makes this soil so lush and ripe for character development? A simplistic story.

Where The Walking Dead is epic in scale and open to a world (literally) of possibilities, Breaking Bad is the simplistic, yet enticing, story of one man's transition from good guy to bad guy. That's it. Yes his transition affects the people closest to him, but it's still about HIS transition.

Just a handful of characters is all that is needed to tell the story of this transition and this allows for a much deeper, more focused area of writing: Start with one man, his transition, and spread out from there to how everyone around him is affected by the choices that he makes. It's a more effective way of developing characters than opposed to starting outward with a global tragedy and working inward to see how that one massive event has affected, not just a particular group of characters, but everyone they come across. This expands the story you're trying to tell and diminishes the focus on individual character development.

So if you're going based off of characters and how interesting they are, Breaking Bad obviously takes the cake. However, if character development isn't important to you then you're probably a fan of Girl on the Loose, in which case you've just wasted your time.

This is just the opinion of one humble viewer. What do you think?